|(12/03) Exclusive only to FantasyAnime, this is an interview of
the great "F.H." of the video
game translation scene! It is because of him and the efforts of
others that we have English translations available for Front
Mission, Alcahest, and
Papuya. He is definitely an Internet celebrity in my eyes! So let
the interview begin. (his replies are in aqua
| I was
pretty new to the Internet back then. I was teaching myself SNES
coding at the time, and had done a few small projects plus cracks of
games. I think I read something about a Final Fantasy 5 translation
and I was curious about how they had achieved this. I felt pretty
comfortable in approaching some group with ASM (Assembly Language)
assistance. I looked around and approached a group called "Kanji
Hack", but they said "Thanks", but didn't need any assistance. I
looked around again, and saw someone called "Stories" working on one
of my favourite SNES games, "Front Mission"! The rest is history!☺
influenced your decision to work on Front Mission?
| I really
did like the game! I didn't need to read Japanese to be moved by the
game's story and its ending. I'd never seen anything like that in
any RPG! Plus working with a small group of people, rather than a
big Translation Group brand name appealed more to me.
| Did you
do anything special to prepare yourself for Front Mission?
| I guess
the honest answer is "no"! I walked in there with no idea what was
needed to make a translation of a game! A lot of us back then had to
learn as we went along. There were no sources of information,
generic script dumpers or table generators. We had to build the
translation tools ourselves, and so I, and I guess others, built up
a knowledge of what was needed in translations by "doing".
problems did you encounter during the Front Mission project? And
what did you do to correct them?
| Quite a
Technical problems: FM
– along with later Square games such as Seiken Densetsu 3 – was a
different breed of program than its predecessors, and trying to
understand the program solely through disassembled output was nigh
on impossible! Then I learned of emulators having Trace facilities
and that helped! ^_^
Translators/translations: we lacked these for FM for the longest
time. I guess the solution came in the form of Akujin and Hojo.
The script: The FM
script contains action, suspense, sadness, humor, plus a diversity
of characters. The translation from Japanese to English, without
context or a given continuity, flattened elements of the script. It
was down to Akujin, David Mullen, Shih Tzu and I to go over every
piece of text to really do justice to this story; so much so, that
the entire script had completely changed once we'd each been over it
5 times! We even had a "US Military Dictionary of Terms" and used it
to shape a lot of the military language, i.e.: "Hindering our Air
Offensive", "Avenue of Approach", "Advance to Contact", etc. I
certainly felt we should stay away from the "All Ages" grammar level
evident in a lot of official SNES translations.
Text Display: We
added a "Variable Width Font" display to the game, plus "Dynamic
Font Wrapping" which works in much the same way as Word Processor
would do in wrapping text to the next line. This supported
substrings of varying length. It was a pain to get working and I'd
never do it to that extent again!!
influenced your decision to work on Alcahest?
| Again, it
was a game I had completed and always liked. I always found Jun
Ishikawa's music a pleasure to listen to!☺
| Did you
do anything special to prepare yourself for Alcahest?
really special, I guess. I adapted the tools I had done for FM over
| Have you
participated in any other translation project besides Front Mission,
Alcahest, and Papuya?
| I did
make a translation document for "Record of the Lodoss War", which
was picked up and used by Lina Chan's translation. I did offer some
help into Shadow's "Ranma 1/2" and "Gulliver Boy", but I'm not sure
what happened to them. I did look into "Gun Hazard" for RPGe, though
they disbanded – I believe Gideon Zhi and Akujin are doing quite
well with their own translation of it. I also have offered "a fresh
pair of eyes" to DarkForce on some of his projects – and likewise,
he'll do the same for me. It's good to know we have someone to
scream at if we get stuck! J I'm also actively involved in the
Romancing Saga 1 translation.
| Do you
plan to continue working on translation projects? Knowing what you
went through to get the Front Mission project completed, do you
think you can handle working on another big RPG title?
| To be
honest, I'm not sure. We'll see what the future holds!☺
| I would
like to close the interview with this last question. What gave you
and continues to give you the will and enthusiasm to keep you going
with translation projects? Do you have a personal goal or mission?
| I guess
because there is an enjoyment in it for me, plus working with people
who share the same goal of seeing these games translated! And also
it's the players and fans' of these games that have kept us going
with their support - they make it all worthwhile!☺